Industry Launches Center for Produce Safety at UC Davis

April 17, 2007

3 Min Read
Industry Launches Center for Produce Safety at UC Davis

Representatives from the countrys leading produce trade associations and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura have announced plans to create a Center for Produce Safety at the University of California, Davis. The center will be housed at the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at UC Davis, whose mission is to conduct research that enhances the safety and security of the nations food supply. The Produce Marketing Association (PMA), Newark, DE, is contributing $2 million to establish the center. Taylor Farms, Salinas, CA, has also pledged to contribute an additional $2 million in cash as well another $1 million of research already planned by the company. PMA will work with the State of California, which also is contributing $500,000, and other leading industry associations to secure additional funding for research and training initiatives.

I commend the produce industry and the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security for collaborating with government to launch the new Center for Produce Safety at the University of California at Davis, said Kawamura. The Center for Produce Safety will lose no time putting together an aggressive research, training and outreach agenda into how and where foodborne illnesses arise in produce, and actions that can be taken to reduce these risks. The industrys actions will help restore consumer confidence and demonstrate that the health and safety of consumers is their ultimate priority.

The Center for Produce Safety will primarily focus on two critical objectives. First, it will serve as a clearinghouse for all available research related to produce safety. This initiative is the first in the industry designed to capture all existing scientific data on food safety in one central repository. Second, the center will fund new scientific studies focused on developing new solutions that mitigate risks associated with the nations produce supply. Allocation of the centers research investments and oversight of active research projects will be led by a governing body consisting of leaders from industry, associations, government and academia. Details of this body are currently under development.

The creation of the Center for Produce Safety is the direct result of an industry-wide collaborative response to recent E. coli outbreaks. In the fall of 2006, PMA, other industry association partners and government agencies focused on investigating the cause of the outbreaks and expediting efforts to protect against the risks of future outbreaks.

In addition to the investments in new research, produce industry leaders and food safety experts from the State of California are also launching science-based training and outreach programs. The field-level training support will supplement programs already in place by individual produce growers and handlers and ensure they include the latest scientific information and established good agricultural practices.

The Center for Produce Safety and enhanced field level training and outreach programs supplement the industrys recent progress in establishing a comprehensive set of new guidelines agreed to by the spinach and leafy greens industry.

For more information, see the news item on the UC Davis website.

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